We love a good food conference, as evidenced by our coverage of the IACP conference extravaganza. It is critical for any industry to allow itself some moments of creative self-reflexivity, and they’re a great opportunity for business networking. The most interesting aspect of these conferences, for us, is that they provide a venue for corporate leaders and academic researchers to get together and discuss the future of their field.
Two conferences dedicated to the exploration of trends within the food industry begin today in Brussels and Dubai, which is about as international as you can get. The European conference, entitled “Perspectives for FOOD 2030,” is aimed at establishing a narrative to orient the research and planning needed to develop coherent economic and social policy for the European food industry to pursue in the next 25 years. Um…or, simply, what will Europeans be eating in 2030, and how best to facilitate that. The Persian Gulf event, AGRA Middle East, is more of an agribusiness industry exhibition than a conference per se, but it is set to address similarly grand issues. Namely, how is a region who’s economic viability depends, in large part, on petroleum products going to react to an energy sector increasingly reliant on biofuels. Where, and how, can the Middle East situate itself in a post-petroleum, bio-based global energy market, when 90% of all foodstuffs consumed in the region is imported?
These are heady questions for a food blog about Chicago, but we think it is important to occasionally look at the bigger picture. What will we be eating in 25 years? Is the breadbasket of the United States going to be turned into a giant cellulosic ethanol factory? Is there going to be any wild seafood left? Ten years ago, no one would have predicted that the fates of the food industry, the energy industry and the environment would be so tightly intertwined, but these days, there is no doubt that the future hangs in the balance. Any thoughts on that? Share with us.